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Uniform Convective Heating for Sublimation Process

Thermal Engineering

Challenge:

Faced with the challenge of transitioning a product from low to high-quantity production, one customer chose EIT for thermal management expertise.  The customer had an ink-sublimation process for printing graphics on their product which employed infrared (IR) lamps.  The IR sublimating was a slow, one-up process and did not lend itself well to high-quantity production.  They needed an enabling technology to turn their process around.

Objective:

The customer was interested in convective heating for their sublimating process, but desired a more uniform temperature profile across the substrate than a typical heat gun could offer. EIT took on the task of customizing a nozzle attachment for the TIP1K thermal process control unit to achieve a uniform and controlled thermal profile across the 2” × 6” substrate.

Solution:       

A thermally insulative PTFE nozzle attachment was designed and machined to encompass the 2” × 6” substrate.  Mechanical engineers performed analysis and experimentation to confirm that obstructing the air flow and forcing it to mix by way of a heuristically determined hole-pattern in conjunction with a preliminary diffuser would decrease the temperature gradient across the substrate.

Result:

The final design decreased the temperature gradient from 150°F down to 40°F, ensuring that the TIP1K would suit the application.  By replacing the IR system with the customized TIP1K, the time-limiting factor was removed from the customer’s process allowing them to make the necessary transition to a high-quantity production process.